Bulk carrier

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Ore freighter Saar Ore

Bulk (also bulk carriers , bulk carriers or bulk carriers called) are vessels which for the transportation of loose bulk materials are used, such as ore , coal , bauxite , phosphate , cement or cereals . Bulk carriers handle around a third of global sea transport. Liquid bulk cargo such as crude oil, chemicals and liquid food are transported by tankers .


The first bulk carriers in today's sense were colliers , sailing ships that were used from the 17th century to transport coal from north-east England to London . In the 1840s, steamships were first used as necklaces on this route . While cargo steamers, which were mostly constructed as general cargo ships, replaced the sailing ships in the following decades, the latter were able to hold their own in the bulk cargo sector for a relatively long time. Around 1910, during the “ saltpeter trip” to Chile, coal was still being transported with sailing ships from Europe to South America and from there saltpeter back to Germany. Well-known German sailing freighters were the five - masted full ship Prussia , the five- and four-masted barges Potosi , Pamir , Passat , Peking and others. Until the time after the Second World War , a large part of the bulk cargo was transported in general cargo ships. In those years, bulk carriers were defined as single deck ships with a carrying capacity of over 10,000 tons. It was only in the post-war years that this market segment began to specialize, which was accompanied by rapidly growing sizes.


General plan of a Handymax freighter with loading gear

Since some bulk goods tend to slip when moving, this could lead to the ship being tilted or even capsizing . For this reason, the holds for bulk cargo are designed in such a way that slippage is largely prevented and a heeling moment can be compensated for by means of ballast tanks located high up , so-called wing tanks . There are pure bulk carriers and also combined OBC (Ore-Bulk-Container) and OBO (Ore-Bulk-Oil) ships that can load containers or oil in addition to / instead of the bulk goods . OBC (ore / ore bulk goods / bulk container) ships are more complex to build, but can also transport containers. Tank bulk carriers such as OBO (Erz / Ore-Schüttgut / Bulk-Öl / Oil) ships are also more expensive to build, but in contrast to pure tankers, they can load dry bulk cargo on a return trip.

By since July 1 valid 88. Supplementary Protocol to the 2006 SOLAS 74 was this revised in order to adapt the risks associated to the operation of bulk carriers by, among other double-hull constructions prescribes mandatory, with the restriction that - the resistance of Greece down - Ships that only carry liquid goods ( tankers ) are excluded from this.

Pure bulk carriers are roughly differentiated according to their size:

  • Handysize bulk carriers (from 10,000 to 39,999 dwt ) in small charge quantities and shipping routes to ports with low draft . Cell phone bulk carriers usually have their own loading equipment .
  • Handymax Bulk Carrier, up to approx. 45,000 dwt, shorter than 190 m, narrower than 32.27 m, often with its own loading gear
  • Supramax Bulk Carrier, until 2005 officially Handymax (40,000–59,999 tdw) usually also have their own loading gear
  • Ultramax Bulk Carrier, up to 64,999 dwt, shorter than 200 m, narrower than 32.27 m, often with its own loading gear
  • Panamax Bulk Carriers (60,000–99,999 tdw) mainly transport coal, grain and bauxite in global traffic
  • Capesize Bulk Carriers (over 100,000 tdw) are almost exclusively active in the transport of iron ore and coal for steel production

With increasing size, the draft of the ships also increases. Panamax and Capesize bulkers usually do not have their own loading gear . Prices and charter rates of bulk carriers are subject to very strong fluctuations depending on the economic situation due to their relatively short-term contracts. For example, a five-year-old, charter-free Capesizebulker with 170,000 dwt cost around USD 101 million at the beginning of July 2007; At the end of 2005 a comparable ship was still costing around USD 57 million. Daily charter rates of almost USD 234,000 were occasionally paid for Capesize Bulker. In the wake of the economic crisis, the charter rates for a Capesize ship have sometimes fallen to 3,600 US dollars a day.

The currently largest bulk carrier is Vale Brasil , built in 2010 by Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering , the Brazilian mining group Vale (formerly CVRD), with a loading capacity of around 400,000 t and a length of 362 m. The ship initiates a construction program of 35 ships with capacities between 388,000 and 400,000 tons.


Web links

Commons : Bulk Carrier  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files